12/04/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Know Your Rights on Election Night

How to make sure your vote is counted. It is up to American citizens to do their own reporting and their own investigations. We have learned the Mass media will not watch out for us. Here's how to insist on a democratic election by your own pro-active means.

Touch screen voting:

1. If you press the name of your candidate look down in the window at the bottom of the screen to make sure the candidate you voted for is listed there.
2. If there are discrepancies -- stop--call a poll worker over and explain the problem. They may ask you to try again, but insist they watch. If you have a video camera, such as a cell phone, record the discrepancy. If the machine fails again, insist election officials take the machine out of service. Try to get an identifying number for the machine, so that you can find out later what happened to the machine. This is no time to be intimidated. Machines make mistakes and we know it now.
3. Some states show Straight Party voting. Check your votes carefully before finally casting your ballot. Machines in some states that allow straight party voting do not include the Presidential candidates and the machine might select a Presidential candidate for you. Make sure you are allowed to vote for a President.

Provisional Ballots:

1. You may find you are not longer registered to vote (voter purging)
2. Call your county elections office to confirm you are registered.
3. Just in case, take a photo ID, and a utilities bill to establish proof of your address.
4. If you are told you are no longer registered to vote, demand a provisional ballot.
5. Here is a list of states in which you can still vote early: (take a photo I.D).
6. If faced with long lines, try to get a provisional ballot instead.
7. If voting provisional ballot, call your county elections office the next week to see if it has been counted. Insist upon learning whether or not your specific ballot was counted.

Voting by mail:

1. Some states (California) for instance require ballots arrive in officials hands before the closing of the polls -- the postmark doesn't count.
2. In many jurisdictions you can personally drop off your ballot at a polling place on election day, or at county headquarters.
3. You can call your county elections department a week later to verify that they received it, and that it has been counted. Because ballots in the United States are secret, the officials cannot tell you how you voted, just that you voted.


If you receive a phone call or mailing saying you can vote on Wednesday, or that if you vote, bad things will happen to you (tax audit, outstanding parking tickets getting collected), try to find out who is contacting you and how to reach them. Pretend you need to call them back. Then contact your secretary of State's office and report the incident. You have a right to vote, and it is a Federal crime to give out misleading information about voting or to intimidate people from voting.

When there is a Problem or a Question:

1. Write down time and place, what happened and the person or persons you spoke with... also write down names and numbers of witnesses.
2. Call the following hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE. Take this number with you when you vote!

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